An Air New Zealand flight to Tahiti had to circle for four hours dumping fuel before landing back in Auckland thanks to a hydraulics problem.
Passengers said they heard about the fault an hour into their flight to Tahiti yesterday, and the aircraft had to return to Auckland because it could not have been fixed in Papeete.
Janine Williams said the plane had to continue flying around New Zealand to lose sufficient fuel to be able to land safely back in Auckland.
"I personally was a little worried when I heard hydraulic because I didn't understand if that meant the wings or the wheels or where that meant," she said.
"He mentioned that there weren't engineers ... in Tahiti and that we needed to spend the next three or four hours dumping fuel for landing purposes."
Ms Williams said the pilot and crew did a great job of reassuring passengers.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the plane returned to Auckland as a precautionary measure after an engineering issue was detected.
It was standard for aircraft in these situations to spend time circling to reduce fuel weight prior to landing, she said.
Passengers were transferred to an another aircraft and left for Tahiti again a short time later.